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We picked Chicago because we had been there before. In 2005, I was sent there on a business trip. My boss (at the time) said that since I had a room to myself (traveling with two male co-workers), that David could go with me and share the room if he paid his own airfare. Back then, Chicago had one of the biggest Print Trade Shows there were. David and I were awestruck at all the new technology and really enjoyed the show, but there wasn’t much downtime to explore the city due to work obligations. We enjoyed what we could take in while we were there. When we left we said we would go back one day.
So, 10 years later we did!
The only part of the trip that was planned was the flights to/from and the hotel. We like to fly by the seat of our pants and don’t like to have a lot of planned activities. Planned activities tend to cause stress when you need to be in certain places at certain times. We don’t like to be on a time clock!
DAY 1 IN CHICAGO
Although the sun was shining on the way to the airport, we arrived in a very cold rain around 10:30 on Saturday morning. We flew out of Dulles International with Frontier Airlines and landed at O’Hare International Airport. Frontier may claim to have cheap airfares, and they do, but you cannot bring along a carry-on suitcase unless you pay a fee. David and I do not check baggage on the trips we take, so we each had to pay a stiff $30 fee for baggage. At that point the airfares were no different than any other carrier, but who cares it got us to Chitown!
From O’hare we took the “L” to Hotel Monaco. This hotel is approximately 45 minutes via Blue Line to Clark and Lake. The hotel’s website said it was a four-block walk. Since it was raining, we hailed a taxi and wasted about $5.00 because the train station was just around the corner from the hotel. I’m not sure who wrote the directions, but a taxi wasn’t needed although it did keep our suitcases out of the water standing on the sidewalks and streets.
We were immediately greeted by a bellhop. He was very dapper in a very stylish gray wool suit. He helped us out of the cab and directed us inside where we could find out if our room was ready and if not check our bags so we could free ourselves up to go get some lunch. Our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our baggage with the bellhop. The lady at the front desk took my phone number and would call us when our room was ready. The bellhop suggested The Emerald Loop right across the street for lunch. He also gave us a coupon for a free appetizer.
The building in which the restaurant was in was a 40 story landmark building, with rich Chicago Al Capone history and it has also been featured in movies such as “Batman Begins” and “Transformers – Dark of the Moon”. Even though there was a pub atmosphere, to this establishment they had a wonderful breakfast buffet with many choices. It was tempting, but we chose to order from the menu. We didn’t want to gorge ourselves because we were headed to Giordano’s for some deep dish pizza for supper. The deep-dish was one of the reasons we came back to Chicago!
We chose the fried pickle chips for our appetizer. They came with ranch dressing and I am here to tell you, they were addictive! It was hard to stop eating them, but we didn’t want to spoil our lunch appetite.
David had the Ham & Cheese. Smoked ham, pecan wood bacon, smoked gouda,
arugula, ciabatta – (HOLD THE ARUGULA), with a side order of onion rings. He washed all this down with a beer from the tap.
I had the Grilled Chicken Wrap. Grilled Chicken, Bacon, avocado, tomato, romaine, balsamic vinaigrette, with a side order of sweet potato tots. I washed this down with Coke.
Before we finished up our meal, the front desk of the hotel called to alert us that our room was ready.
We finished up our lunch and went to the hotel to officially check-in!
The hotel room was awesome, complete with a meditation window and yoga mat (say what?!?!).
Our neighbor while in Chicago was none other than The Donald. We were pleased that he wasn’t an obnoxious or noisy neighbor.
After we settled in, we decided to brave the cold rain a do a little exploring. Yeah, the weather was really crappy and I am so glad I took along my heavy winter coat. I needed it! I zipped it up tightly and off we went.
We hadn’t gotten very far away from the hotel when I looked up to try to see the top of one of the surrounding buildings. At that moment I found myself dwarfed by all that massive concrete and steel and realized I was back! Surrounded by skyscrapers you almost need some kind of neck cushion so you can take it all in without straining your neck. I remember the first time I went to Chicago, my neck was hurt from straining to look up at all the rich architectural buildings. They really are magnificent and there is no wonder Chicago has a section called the Magnificent Mile. Hey, you have to remember I am a farmer’s daughter from the country. When I come to the city I go into a little culture shock.
We walked around a block or two and went in and out of a few stores, but as we walked outside, the cold got colder and the wet got wetter. I was beginning to feel my hood collapse from the rain it had absorbed and the tops of my shoulders were cold. David was feeling the same way, probably worse. All he had on was a pullover fleece sweatshirt. Mr. Hot Blooded was feeling the elements too. We decided to go back to the room for a bit to warm up and perhaps get a wee nap…
Not long after we got back to our room, there was a knock at the door. It was room service delivering a complimentary bottle of champagne in honor of our 2nd Anniversary! We were overjoyed, to say the least. FREE BOOZE. 🙂
The rain stopped and not long after that, Trump’s building started to reflect sunlight into our room. I pulled up the radar and was happy to see that the rain was out there! It was about supper time and deep-dish pizza was a few blocks away. We decided to do some shopping along the way to work up our appetites, but before we could get out of the door of the lobby, we remembered that it was Wine O’clock and they were pouring the free wine. You see, every evening at 5:00 p.m. the hotel has a wine social in the lobby. We couldn’t walk out of the hotel when free wine was being poured. We talked to a very nice lady staying at the hotel from Alabama. She and her family were visiting and celebrating her husband’s 75th birthday and her son’s birthday (born on the same day). While talking, the bellhop that brought us the champagne came around and topped off our glasses of wine. Yep, more free booze! These people were going to have to throw us out by Tuesday.
The streets were a little more crowded than they were the time before. The rain may have stopped but that cold wind that whips in off of Lake Michigan was still freezing cold. They don’t call it the Windy City for anything.
After a little shopping and a long, long wait (2-hours) we were seated at a table and our pizza was ready to come out of the oven. It was 10 years since we last had Giordano’s Pizza and it was well worth the wait. It was just as good as it was 10 years ago. No built-up imaginations, just good damn pizza! We gorged ourselves on it and waddled back to our hotel with
To Be Continued…